Heavy trucks, tractor trailers, buses, delivery vans and other trucks emit 23 percent of carbon pollution from the transportation sector but account for only about 4 percent of the vehicles on the road in North America. That means anything that makes them more efficient with fewer tailpipe emissions pays higher dividends for the environment than ratcheting up fuel economy and emissions standards for passenger cars.
Last week, Canadian prime minister Justin
Bieber Trudeau visited with President Obama to solidify his country’s commitment to the pledges both nations made at the Paris climate change summit last December. Part of that agreement includes a decision by the Canadian government to adopt the same proposed emissions standards for heavy trucks that will soon go into effect in the US.
According to Switchboard, the official blog of the National Resources Defense Fund, using known and cost effective technologies to improve engines, aerodynamics and tires can cut tractor trailer fuel consumption and pollution by 40 percent. As a result, truckers save money at the pump, the goods we all buy are cheaper to deliver, and the environment gets cleaner.
Reducing pollution from heavy trucks is the primary goal of an initiative of the US Department of Energy, which is ready to provide $80,000,000 in funding to find ways to further reduce pollution from big rigs. Think none of this has anything to do with you? Think again. By 2030, the combined set of existing standards for cars, light trucks and heavy trucks along with the recently proposed Phase 2 heavy truck standards will cut U.S. carbon emissions by over 730 million metric tons. That is equivalent to taking 190 coal fired power plants off line. Everyone agrees that having fewer coal plants is a good thing, except for the Kook Brothers, of course.
Canada has long been a partner with the U.S. in advancing cleaner vehicles. It is implementing carbon pollution standards for cars and light trucks that match the U.S. target of 54.5 mpg by 2025. It has also adopted heavy truck standards similar to the U.S. 2014-2018 Phase 1 program. Environment Canada, the country’s counterpart to EPA, has been supporting the development of the proposed Phase 2 heavy truck standards. In particular, it is deeply involved with aerodynamic testing that will enable adoption of those tougher Phase 2 standards.
The strengthened U.S.-Canada relationship demonstrated by this week’s summit shows promise for further action to accelerate the transition to clean energy and protect our shared environment, says the NRDC. In particular, the two nations can act to protect the pristine Arctic. The oil savings that come from cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles reinforce the many reasons that drilling in the Arctic Ocean should be excluded from current and future offshore programs.
The NRDC statement concludes with these words. “President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau should also leverage this shared vision to advance clean vehicles globally. Thanks to our clean vehicle standards, U.S. and Canadian manufacturers are technology leaders. Having climate-protective policies around the world can give another boost North American innovation and manufacturing. We can spur our economy and clean the environment at the same time.”